Shelter Gardens, Columbia, Mo.


This is a series of poems I wrote over a considerable period of time. The oldest one dates from the late 1970s, which means they span over a twenty-year period. This is only a fraction of the poetry that I've written during those intervening years. Most of my poetical life occurred before the age of personal computers, when writing longer and more complex manuscripts could be quite tedious. In the pen and pencil day, it was much more expedient to write a poem to express some thought or emotion than a three-draft short story that had to be retyped every time a change was to be made.

On the other hand, during that period much of my poetry was redundant. But, on the other hand, much of my life, as well as the lives of all other people, tend to be redundant, so that isn't necessarily a self-criticism.

These poems are not arranged in chronological order, nor do they follow any thematic plan, except that I've tried to affect a balance between longer and shorter works. This is not meant to be read in one sitting, but rather to be sampled like rich pastry. Too much is too much.

The photographs and artwork are mine, except where noted. Thank you.


1. Rollins Spring
2. Gooseberries
3. Aurora
4. On Parting After Twelve Years
5. Sycamore Morning
6. Doe
7. Nest in Snow
8. Insomnia
9. Adultery
10. Paw Paw
11. Silver Geese
12. Rollins Hill
13. Alone
14. The Challenge
15. Christmas Alone
16. Unrequited
17. Chickadee
18. The First Tulip
19. Promise
20. Parting
21. Winter Moon
22. Winter Bridge
23. Winter Woods By Night
24. Winter Walk
25. Winter Paths
26. Autumn Storm
27. Recurring Dream
28. August Memory
29. Perspective
30. Security
31. Snow Woman
32. Spring Beauties
33. Night Storm in Summer
34. After The Storm
35. The Road at Evening
36. Perseverence and the Inevitable
37. Good Friday
38. Beckoning Morning
39. Regression
40. Partners
41. International House
42. August Anticipation
43. Stress
44. Dew
45. Highway Sounds
46. Color of Night
47. Chimes on Burnam Street
48. October Night
49. Autumn Dinner
50. Summer of the Feral Cats

An early spring dandelion and morel, Columbia, Mo.


Step beyond
The well-worn path
To where secrets hide
From jaded eyes,
Where rocks jut from
Greening earth.

By any account
A small outcrop,
Pale gray plates
Packed tight.
Above, a steep hill,
Below, a stream valley,
But here,
Nooks and crannies,
Filled with centuries of
Mold-made dirt--
A thimbleful here,
Half-cup there,
Holding all--
A small outcrop,
Great with life.

Life bubbles out
In pale ferns
With perfect branches,
June's ferns in miniature,
Sprouting singly
Or in clusters.
Flat on the wall,
Like pale blue pastry,
Uneven flakes proving their goodness.
Last year's moss
Dried and brown,
Hang dripping
From the rock lip
While this year's bright green
Pushes them off.
And gooseberries
Oh, gooseberries--
Palm leaves,
An open-handed palm,
On delicate stalks
Arch over the rock--
Jeweled flowers
Appear weighty
Though they weigh
No more than the moment.
Bloom-bearing Trillium
chocolate brown bud
On a trifolate leaf.
Follow its youthful stalk,
Green against the leaves,
As it recedes,
Turning rust, then brown
As it springs
From its like-brown mother.

So many browns--
In the thick rustling
Of last year's foliage,
Inches deep
Covering the ground.

Step beyond
The well-worn path
To where secrets hide
From jaded eyes.
Lay against this earth
To kiss her face.


Gooseberries thrive
In a thimbleful
Of dirt on a
Soaring precipice.
White blossoms
Hang beneath palmate leaves,
Promising tart,
Moonmarked fruit
In early June.


Had I been blessed with a daughter
Among these many sons
I should have named her Aurora
For the first light.
Now, I watched that sun arise
And gild the misty valleys--
Toward her, all is brilliant--
She glows deep red
When first she stretches her form
Against the horizon--
Broader now in girth
Than she will be at noon
When she has grown narrow and grim
From the morning's labors.
But now, she rises,
Her lusty, eager red
mellows quickly to rusty gold,
Until, ere long,
Her face cannot be viewed
For its intensity.
But westward,
As I turn toward home,
She has thrown pinks and golds
Against the trees,
The noblest edifice,
And the humblest gutter,
Until all glow with
Her superlative light.
The western sky,
Still sooty with sleep,
Within minutes is clear,
Wiping away the traces of gray
Like a child roused by its mother
From a restful, dreamy sleep.
It glows now, the sky,
A transparent eggshell blue.
The palate of dawn
Is filled with Easter egg colors.
Precious morning,
Precious Aurora,
My kinswoman since
The dawning of my birth--
At once my mother,
Joyously watching over
The making of my days,
Cheerfully, tirelessly
Planning each one,
And now, as my daughter,
Whom I carefully
And daily attend,
Watching her perform
The same steps every morning
And never tiring of it.
Oh, precious light,
My Aurora.

March 9, 2000


Had I not left
Him that night
I would never have seen
The stone bridge
Dusted with snow,
And the full moon’s
Reflection in the water
Years later,
The beauty of that moment
Far surpasses
The heaviness
Of my loss.


To the east
The deep blue clouds
That, only moments ago,
Swept overhead,
Converge, billowing,
Against the lavender,
Pre-dawn sky.
The trees in the distant grove,
A thick thatch
Of black limbs,
Bespeak winter's decrease.
But the birds,
Oh, the birds
Tell a different story,
Of fullness and increase--
Of coming spring--
A single seedeater,
Teacup sized,
Chirps insistently
As she searches the ground.
Her friends,
Hearing her call,
Swoop gracefully,
Graciously, across the clearing
To join her
In her newfound plenty.
Her cousins,
Rock doves,
Blue jays,
Song sparrows,
Keep to the woods,
But call the news
To one another.
The clouds have colored in
The east,
Leaving only a thin ribbon
Of palest pink at the horizon--
Pink only by comparison
To the grays and blue.
A squirrel stirs in the sycamore,
Scolding good naturedly,
Dropping white bark
On the still-cold ground.

6. DOE

On a rise
Above the path
We stop
Each perceiving
The other's motion.
Standing on the path,
I can barely see them
Through the trees.
I know their presence
Only by one's quick dart
From behind one tree
To the next.
The doe's large ears
Stand out inquisitively from her head,
And her black velvet nose
Quivers at the sight
Of one such as myself.
She is still now--
Invisible in her stillness.
We are like the doe--
Only seen when we dart,
When we move.
I shall be very still.


A white light
Through white trees--
A white sky
And white paths.
White-frosted boughs
Of a honeysuckle
Curl to the stony ground,
The sparse leaves
Coated with hoar,
With new-fallen snow.
Leaves in the high boughs
Rustle different today
Than the leaves of November.
Soft, muted mews replace
Crisp, dry crackles
As the biting wind
Wends through the woods.
A squirrel's nest high
In a hackberry tree
Gives no hint of the life inside--
How many sleepy souls
Curl together in opulent warmth,
Dreaming of walnuts
Deep in the sod,
Oblivious to the white, white world.


The matters that pressed
So hard in the night--
Deeds undone,
Debts unpaid,
Borrowed books unreturned, unread,
Dissolve and are resolved
By the dawn.


And so God said,
When he found them in sin,
"I must punish you,
Man and woman,
For your transgressions.
With the greatest regret,
Of course, for you know
You brought it on yourselves."

The man and woman,
Naked, ashamed,
Hanged their heads
(Though he, the man, watched
Her carefully from under his brows
To be sure what to do.
He was always like that.)

"This," God the Father said,
"Is going to hurt me
Much more than it's going to hurt you,"
(Though the woman doubted that.)
"You, woman, will walk
The rest of your days alone,
Your nights plagued
By dreams that waken you
With tears,
Reminding you that the man
Is never out of your soul,
Though your careworn, overworked days
Leave you concerned with nothing
But the minutia that fills every waking second
In the drudgery of earning too little
On which to live.
You will subsist in poverty,
Not bad enough to kill,
But only wound."
And when he fell silent,
The woman, eyes brimming, sighed.
"I understand," she said humbly,
Turning away.
"And me?" said the man, his countenance timid,
"What about me?"
"For your sin," God said slowly,
Measuring each word carefully.
"For your sin, you will
Fall in love with a strong-bodied
Post-menopausal woman on hormones,
Beautiful, plays golf, with a perfect stroke
And an intact libido,
Independently wealthy, I think,
With grown children.
She will adore you,
And you will marry within the year,
Surrounded by your family and friends,
All of whom will be quick
To welcome her, without mentioning of
This old woman.
You will get a stately new home
In a gated community,
With an in ground pool
And a sauna and whirlpool
In the master suite.
You will trade your Mercedes for
(And here God paused)
A B.M.W.
Yea, verily, your practice will increase,
And no one will care that you embezzled,
defrauded, evaded taxes or committed perjury.
You will forget this woman,
Her children, her home
As if they had been only
A fleeting dream.
And, as the coup d'gras,
As the capstone of your punishment,
At sixty, you will still look great."
The man looked into the face of God.
His eyes twinkled.
"Thank you, God," he said.
The woman turned back,
"Wait a minute," she said.
"Hold your celestial horses.
God, what gives?
These aren't punishments.
How, pray, and I mean that,
Do you constrict this cornucopia of good things
Into the nutshell of punishment?
"Oh, my child," God said.
"The man was always a moral boob,
But you knew better."


Maroon-petaled flowers
on milky sapped twigs,
Grey-barked tree
(Only a bush)
Growing in the bottoms.

Leaves, lance-headed
Silvery green,
Hairy beneath--
A rancid smell
When crumpled in hand.

Comes the autumn,
the leaves drop away.
Fruit of the tree
rare, exotic--
A yellowish swelling,
Pendulant, oblong
Clustered as twins
Two by two.

But if you should chance
On the elusive fruit
Before ravenous 'possum
Greedily partakes--
Ah, the rare glory
Pull it down from its tree.

And cast it away.
Because it doesn't taste a
damned thing like a banana
Like the guidebooks say
And it sure as hell doesn't taste
Like custard either.
Don't mess with the paw paw--
Leave it for the raccoons
Poor Raccoon.
He'll eat anything.


When geese fly
Near the full moon
In early winter,
They turn silver.
But the memory of them
Is gold.


Snow falls thick
On Rollins Hill
Filling the slope,
Slowly, slowly--
Filling the paths
Patiently, patiently,
Filling crooks of trees,
And frosting outstretched branches.

Two hundred years past
Old Rollins
In his youth
Fresh from the
Dark and Bloody Ground,
Built a rough log house
Above this creek.
Winter came.
Despairing of food,
They counted the weeks
Til the first greens appear,
While the snow softly fell
Upon cabin and hog pen,
Henhouse and smokehouse,
Softly, softly
As the sky turned to night.

Fifty years,
And the old cabin
Is a slave house.
Rollins grew old
In a planters' home--
marble, and crystal,
English carved mantles,
Italian floors.
Fires in the fireplaces
Bring wintry cheer
To the silk-swathed guests
While dazzling snow sweeps
The ornate bases
Of sturdy white columns.

A few more years,
The slaves, freed.
Rollins, dead,
Lies under the hill.
Pain fills the house--
Wounded soldiers,
Schoolboys only,
Academy scholars,
Fill the rooms,
Felled in battles,
In skirmishes,
In raids.

Grey coated men
Linger outside,
Sobered by life,
Lean against the columns,
Snow swirls around them,
Filling in the valley,
Covering the mound
Of Rollin's grave.

The century turned,
The railroad broke through,
Three-quarters miles per day,
Ties and pylons and rails
Crossing Rollins pasture,
Sidling up to the creek
That skirted the hill.
Four times a day,
The windows rattle
In the house on the hill.
Speeding trains
Screaming toward the station,
Throw snow from the cold hard tracks.
Snow falls still,
In the quiet violet evenings,
Filling in the spaces
'Twixt rails and ties.

And in the night
A solitary man
Walks the track
Swinging a lantern
And singing to himself--
Two glows in the night--
The larger his lantern,
The smaller his cigar
That glows brighter
When he pulls it.

The railway gave way,
Ties torn up,
Rails torn out.
The trains come here
No more.
A man and dog
Slowly walk
The snow-topped bridge
That once carried
Engines, coal cars,
Pullmans, stockcars,
And finally, cabooses.
Evening fades to night
And still it falls,
Patiently, patiently,
Covering all.


In my womanhood
When I was no longer a girl,
But not yet the thing I have become,
My spirit rose
To the caress of a hand,
To the touch of lips,
And another's warmth.
I thrilled to the promise
Of perpetual love
And saw nothing but him.

Now along solitary
Wooded paths I walk,
Seeking dawn from inky birth
To glorious day,
And sunset sink in its scarlet passions
To velvet night.
My spirit rises
To the caress of the wind
To the softness of its lips
On my skin,
To its comforting coolness.
I thrill to the reality
Of perpetual love,
And see all.

M.K.T. Trail west of Columbia, Mo.


Loving ones' own
Is no big task--
The work comes with looking
Into the faces
Of those not my peers--
To see the face God in them--
To see them as heirs to the Kingdom--
That is the real challenge.


Moments, I am calm
With the peace of the season,
With the warmth
Of a small and perfect hand
That squeezes mine.
Moments, I am filled
With clandestine joy--
Wrapping presents,
Humming carols.
Moments, I am aroused
With mysterious relief.

But at night,
When the last kiss
Is delivered to
The sleepy cheeks
Of sweet children,
I am alone...
I am alone.

My voice is still
But my pen
Rages and weeps.


The words of my devotion
Rattle like seeds
In a shaken gourd,
Passionately punctuating
Metered silence.
I say, "I love you,"
And find myself alone.


On the low branch,
She sings out.
Her mate,
He will not answer.
She calls again,
Cocking her black-crested head.
He hop down to her,
Balancing precariously
On the spindly bough
For a moment's warmth
In the icy dawn.


He is my exemplar,
This budding tulip,
Of patience, brightness, growth.
A slight thing,
But it pleasures me
To see his progress
Day by day.


Tulip with round hard blossoms
Prayerfully clasped tight
On bending but still-erect stalk--
Its final color only hinted at
By the narrowest margin
Peeking out
From a soft green envelope.


At our parting
I would weave words
Like summer garlands
About your heart;
Warm words of fresh love,
Ancient words, always new.
Could they be as sweet
To your ears
As they are to my lips?
While you are gone
I will caress your memory
Until your return.


The moon hangs
In a deepening sky,
A saffron disk,
Thrice kissed with pale blue,
Its circumference fringed
With red-gold thread--
Half erased,
Not like a misspelled word
Rubbed from the page
With punitive strokes,
But caressed away
With soft art gum
That gently melts firm edges
Until they blend with the sky.


The bleached wood bridge
Spans the meandering stream--
The giggle of May's fullness
Subdued and rounded to a
Mournful murmur.
Ice pellets cling to the rails,
Skate across the floorboards
Dancing like strings of glass flutes
Dangling from the bodice
Of a fine lady's dress.


The trees are high
Ceiling timbers of a vaulted cathedral.
The wind laces moans between them
Whistling down the streambed.

Nestled in the craggy cliff-face
A white rock leaps to life,
Darts and disappears--
Some mythical creature perhaps.
Twigs lie upon the ground
Shining in the moon glow
Like so many scattered bones.
The rustling above
On the spine of the hill
Could be any manner of
Watchful beast.
Such places give rise
To medieval fears.


A wild dog howls
Answered by his yard-bound cousin.
Ahead, the sky opens
Pink smoke rises from an unseen chimney--
Senses quickened by cold
Gulp the scent of hardwood burning.
Long windows glow orange,
And inside, families share
The news of the day.


In winter the paths narrow
And I weigh my love
With each step.
In winter
There are no goodbyes--
The wind blows them
From my lips
Before your ears
Can hear them.
The snow covers
All tracks, all paths
And I will never find
My way back


The road winds, wet
Through black woods
And haloed streetlamps
Cast lengths of white light
On the blackness below.

The sky, a bright swirl
Of gray clouds
Catch and hold
The city light.

The traffic light blinks
And the wipers, casually
Course rhythmically
Across the glass.


We meet
In my dream
On a white stone path
In a shrub-lined
And go to a room
Decked with flowers.
Near a window
Overlooking a courtyard
I pour our my soul
On my knees.
Weary of loneliness
I promise all
He had once demanded.
He smiles
Shakes his head.
No, never.
How can he be sure?
Then I know.
Is there--someone?
He smiles a smile
Not fully born.
Of course there is.
His face radiant with
He cannot love.
But he can hurt
With the idea of love.
So many years.
Will these dreams ever stop?
Always the same,
Night upon night--
I plead.
He laughs.
The solitary path
Of a thin
Stream of tears.


The sleepy-eyed
Kept out only the light
While we laid tangled
In summer heat,
My hair coiled
Over the sheets
Like placid black snakes.
Another summer
And the only thing
Tangled on the sheets
Is his memory.


From this height
The distant hills
Fold like pleats
To the horizon--
Each pleat
Growing paler
From deep summer green
To palest azure
Barely distinguished
From the washed-white sky.
On the last pleated hill
Two pale towers rise,
Only ghostly streaks
In the distant mists.
When I walk those hills
The towers stand
Shiny strong,
Powerfully tall,
And this height
Where I stand now
Is pale blue-green
From the washed-white sky.


All my life
I prayed for safety
For the ones I love--
For peace
And plenty.
Within those answered prayers
I suffered--
Overcame great obstacles
To keep those I love
And yet...
And yet
In my forties
I know
That I alone
Have been tested.
No one
Ever gave up
A thing
To be with me--
They gave me up
Never overcame
Any challenge
To be my love.
There were no
That surmounted
The mundane.


The boy and his master
Stopped by snow
In their journey
Sought haven in the hut
Of one long dead.
Laying on straw
They talked until
Sleep overtook
The old one.
The boy
Listened to the moaning wind
And the snow
Against the window.

In the night she came
Clad in whitest silk
Breathing exquisite death
In her icy kiss.

The old man,
Life weary,
Succumbed quickly.
Turned to the boy.
She brushed her long sleeve
Against his face,
Caressed his hair,
Her lips close to his,
Her eyes closed
Against the moment.

He could not move,
Drinking in her cold perfection,
Drinking in the fragrance
Of her icy breath.

"I cannot," she said quickly
And turned away.
"You are young, and strong
And pleasing in form."
Rising from the bed,
Her silk gown trailed
Across the straw-strewn floor.
At the door, she turned
And he saw her face
Pale and perfect
In the winter-bright night.
"Speak nothing of this,"
She said,
"And live."

In five winters' time
When the snow first flew
In the bare treetops
He met a girl
He would love forever
And took her home,
And to wife,
And their children were many.

Years hence,
Cradling her
As he had done many times
He studied her beauty.
"Just now," he said,
"You look like someone--"
And told her of
The night in the hut.

Up she leaped
From their loving bed,
Up she leaped and screamed,
You have broken it all--
For I am she--
The woman of snow
And but for the children
Would make good
My threat.
If they complain of you
I will return to finish
What I failed to do."
A swirl of snow enveloped her,
And she was gone
Leaving nothing
But her white silk gown
In his outstretched hands.

Alone and cold,
He prays for the night
She will return,
Breathing exquisite death
In her icy kiss.

A yellow iris.


Buckeye flowers on a buckeye tree
Paw paw blossoms--
Cocoa umbels on a leafless tree.
I could take a picture
But it could never tell
The breadth of sights--
Or the height of them--
The scents
Or sounds of rustling leaves,
Of chirping birds.
The black capped chickadee
Calls to her mate
Who answers forthwith
In lower tones.
Let me ever see the beauty
Of everyday things
Of the perfect boll
Of a dandelion puff,
Every perfect seeded bit
A perfect match to its perfect neighbor,
Forming an intricate seeded core--
I could not even begin
To design such a thing--
See the wild ginger flower
A tiny white-fuzzed cup
Of purpled brown,
Its hard petals drawn back
To reveal a center
Not unlike a tulip's,
A dark inside, rimmed in brilliance
For a hungering insect.
What is this color?
Like fine, old paneling,
Hard and dark,
Shining with years of weekly polish,
But who polishes these
Little gingers of the wood?

M.K.T. Trail, near Columbia, Mo.


In the hot summer night
Knives of lightning
Slash the sky.
The trees turn frantically
To deflect the blows
Of the wild wind
That brings autumn
In its wake.


At dawn,
The sky is quilted
In long rows of
Dark blues and grays--
Not the arcing dome
Of clear blue
But dimensional,
A plenum.
Deep leaves
Seem lighter
Against the
Small flocks
Of black birds
Fly low toward the south.
From that horizon
Distant thunder still calls.
Layer upon layer,
Clouds move east.
When they separate,
The moon hangs
In the eternal blue,
A tiny crescent,
Reflected in the stillness
Of a puddle.


Sit with me beside the road
Upon the rocks
As evening falls.
Watch with me
The windswept clouds
Brushed in washes
By an unseen hand--
Watch with me as travelers pass,
Their lights aglow
In the eventide.
Amber lights
And red,
Blue lights and white,
Reflected on the pavement--
Watch how the long white reflection
Always points to us,
Until at last they pass,
and the light spreads before them
In a softer arc.
We turn to meet
More reflections.
Come and sit upon the rocks
As the sky grays down
And the wind picks up,
The green of hills
Blued in the dusk.
But the lights still come,
Reflecting on the road,
Coming in streams of white,
and leaving in soft glows,
Showing red taillights.
Comes a moment
When there are no cars.
Silence reigns
And the birds across the highway
Fill in the silence.
Sit with me upon the rocks
And watch the clouds go.
South-southeast they go,
Coming from behind our heads,
Going, going to who knows where,
Like the travelers.
And the cars rush past,
Lights and sound,
Lights and wind.

To the east and west
Traffic lights
Move smoothly from one signal
To the next.
Red is best.
It makes the red taillights
Puddle up on the hill,
Streaming around the curve,
Like a string of Christmas lights
On an old white porch.

Sit with me upon the hill
And watch the cars go by.


When the skies roil
The hot wind pulls
At the green leaves.
They have
No wish to go.
Not until wind's voice
Is touched with cold
And their greeness has faded
To withered brown
Do they agree to be carried
Away to the ground.


From my infancy,
I knew him,
Held him in my heart
With a child's love.
Like a relative in the far away
Is made real by letters,
He was real.
At night my thoughts
Were on his face.
By day, his advice
Straightened my steps
And spoke courage to my fears.
I could do all things,
When I remembered him.
He was my beloved,
And I lived each day
Convinced I would yet live to see him.
Then comes a dark day
When they tell me again
How he was tortured and killed,
His most precious body.
Led, like a lamb
To be slaughtered
And he opened not his mouth.
Had I been there
At his hand
That touched so many,
Blessed and healed
The body and mind--
Surely, surely
He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows--
Had I been there
At his feet
That walked the dusty roads,
Now bloodied,
Dust and blood commingled on the ground,
Had I stood beside those feet--
Washed his hands and feet
With my tears--
He shall purify.
I bend my knee,
Tears coming now,
Quietly, quickly.
We adore thee, oh, Christ,
And we bless, thee--
Because of thy holy cross
Thou hast redeemed the world.
And when it is finished
I catch my soul,
And hold it until
Another morning.


Come with me to a perfumed paradise
Where honeysuckle vines embrace the trees,
And Catawba flowers hang overhead--
Where jasmine hides in the low growth.
Unseen, but adding a spice
To the floral tones and mist.
Breathe deep,
It will not be here long.
We will not be here long.
Come with me to a place of music--
Where white-throated sparrows
And black-capped chickadees
Provide melody
And myriad others chip and chirp
Come with me to a place where tastes abound,
The soft sweetness of mulberries,
Eased from the generous tree
In the purple-fingered dawn,
Before the brilliance of the east began.
Then sit with me on the
Dew-sparkled hill
Where breezes on skin feel like water
To eat the berries
Breathe the air,
I am here.


In winter
Lustful dreams
Of a young man
Startled me
From my sleep.
But by late summer
The dreams are
All melancholic ones
Of the old man
I lost.


Like a horse
Harnessed to a mill,
His face in a feedsack,
He lived his life--
Each day
Never varying
In a seasonless march
Around the millstone--
And I, like a fool,
Yoked myself to him,
With half the labor
And none of the rewards.


We meet in the drying yard,
The women and I,
With no common language,
Save clacking clothes pins
And flapping sheets.


What is the price of winter?
To see once again
The blue of evening air,
Snowflakes that dance
High in black boughs
And the gentle fill
Of soft white
In the places I walk.
Summer is the price
I pay for winter--
How dear the cost.


I clung to life
With grit teeth
Until at last
I loosened them.
Now with
Torturous consequences,
I wonder
If the trouble was worth it.

44. DEW

The crystal dew
Hangs heavily on each
Blade of bowed grass,
Jewelling the
Full-crowned dandelions.
The hillside glitters
In the auburn dawn.
Would I esteem it so
Had it wetted the hem
Of my skirt
As I walk?


For years, the high-pitched drone
Of the hated highway
Seeped through windows and shades
At night.
Silence was impossible.
Now, in the darkness
Near quiet woods,
I hear a reedy sound
And remember with sadness
The years by the highway.


How can I convey to you
The color of night?
A velvet black sky,
A blue and white moon?
Rings of pale gold,
Streaked with all colors--
It's ice, my sweet,
The snow will fall soon.
How can I tell you
The kiss of cold--
The air that caresses
The cheek and the hand:
The recondite pleasures
Of walking in winter--
The secret bliss
Of walking at night.


Through the black night
The chimes peal,
The sound tangible
In the dark.
Melodic, unhurried,
Inadvertant chords,
Exquisite themes in minor tones,
Composed by no one,
Save the soul of the wind.


The sun retires
To its western bed
Covering itself
As it slowly descends--
First pink and mauve sheet,
Then scarlet and violet,
Until loving night pulls up
And indigo counterpane
And day-things sleep.
Stars appear.
We turn east,
The crescent moon
Over my shoulder
Shines through
Sparse russet leaves,
Casts pale lace
On the smooth dark path.
Miles we walk,
And miles,
The only light
The reflected face
Of a silvered moon
In the mirroring stream.
Tall trees seem taller still.
Did Wordsworth and Thoreau
Feel as I feel
As they walked nightly walks?
We round a sharp bend.
Low to the ground
A deep orange twinkle
Appears in the trees.
"Home," he says, pointing--
And so it is.
That beacon drawing us
To warmth, to supper,
To comforting beds
And restful dreams,
That beacon
Drawing us


The sky is night-brilliant grey
Behind the stark trees,
Their tall trunks pale
In the dim, distant moonlight.
Only there
In the low growth below
Roils in blackness--
The overcast tinged
With subtle pinks.
Something rustles
The blanket of leaves,
Some night creature
Curious, hungry,
Drawn to our fire--
The red glow of wood,
The scent of our food
Rising up with the smoke.
Glittering eyes watch
He knows we will leave him
Our scraps when we go.

(October 1999)


The cats
Unaware of the
Heat index and all it implies
Merely go into the woods
And nap in the cool shade.